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Cintia Miranda Cintia Miranda
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Website: pulsemarketingagency.com

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Do you have employees or brand ambassadors?

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As a customer, how do you feel when you hear 'Next!' at a coffee shop, Bureau of Motor Vehicles, bank or doctor's office? Now, how do you feel when you are greeted with a smile and welcoming words like 'Good morning! How are you today?' The feeling of being welcome at a place, asked how you're feeling and greeted with a smile makes the experience much more memorable.

From a customer's perspective, there are two major factors that contribute to a memorable experience: the quality of your products or services and great customer service provided by engaged brand ambassadors. But what exactly is a brand ambassador?

Employees can only become brand ambassadors when the organizational culture encourages them to believe in their product or service while striving to make each customer experience better than the previous one. Organizations that give their employees the opportunity to provide their customers with a painless business experience are able to keep their customers engaged and loyal.

You might ask: 'What kind of organization wouldn't do that?' Unfortunately, many fall short. For an organization to be able to transform their employees into brand ambassadors, it must first empower them with critical business information and most companies fail to do this. Think for a moment: How many times have you gone to a restaurant and asked for the soup of day, only to watch the waiter run to the kitchen to find out? How many times have you held up the line behind you at a store because nobody had ever seen or heard of a particular promotion and did not know how to process your coupon? These are two mundane examples, but the list goes on and touches every industry in existence.

In reality, employee performance is directly related to the organizational training, support and level of empowerment they receive. You will never hear a well-trained and empowered employee say, 'That's not my job.' Rather, their attitude will be, 'Let me find out how I can help you.' A customer-centric organizational culture begins with top-level management believing in outstanding customer service and supporting its employees in creating that experience.

Going back to the aforementioned restaurant experience: A well-trained waiter would not only be able to answer your question about the soup of the day, but also provide you with meal suggestions by explaining dishes based on your preferences. They would also guide you in selecting the right beverage to go with your meal. Wouldn't it be nice if every time we went to a restaurant we received that kind of service? What makes the former experience significantly different from the latter is employee training, support and empowerment.

An empowered employee is proud to be part the organization she works for and is committed to its success. In fact, empowerment is a lot more important to most employees than financial incentive. Most employees prefer having a voice and contributing to the success of their organization over receiving contest prizes. For the majority of people, being satisfied with their jobs is more important in the long run.

Marketing, sales and customer service are intractably connected and should communicate the same message. However, many organizations fail to fully integrate them, or to fully appreciate the importance of that connection. I once worked for a large organization that had its customer service department headed by the VP of Finance. Prior to that, I worked for a multinational organization that had separate marketing, sales and customer service departments that literally never met - we received memos. Examples such as these are indicative of a fundamental disconnect. In order for a company to provide outstanding service on every level, it must operate as a cohesive whole.

The truth is that nobody likes to feel like the 'next in line.' We all appreciate a painless business experience. Chances are, your marketing and sales departments have worked hard to bring potential customers through your door. What will convert and keep them loyal, however, is the type of experience your organization is able to provide in person, on the phone and on the web. If you want loyal customers, you need to make their experience memorable and make them feel special by transforming your employees into brand ambassadors.

Cntia Miranda is the president of Pulse Marketing Agency. Learn more about her work at www.pulsemarketingagency.com.

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